20th Century America

During the 19th century, America expanded westwards, pioneered industrial innovations and became an economic and military power.

During the 20th century, the country began to exert this power internationally. It played an increasingly important and international role in global politics and matters during the 20th century.

It was during this period that United States emerged as a global superpower, becoming the sole superpower after the fall of the Soviet Union.

American 20th Century Wars

America played a crucial role in two of the largest and most well known wars in modern history WW1 and WW2 Read more about the American 20th Century Wars >>

American History Timeline

The 20th century saw the rise of United States as a truly global Superpower! Read more about the American History Timeline >>

American Presidents

Ronald Reagan,  Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were some of the Best American presidents   Read more about the American Presidents >>

American Presidents List

Some of the greatest Presidents in American history served the United States in the 20th century. Read more about the American Presidents List >>

Famous American People

A number of Americans rose to exceptional fame and prominence during the 20th century Read more about the Famous American People >>

Famous Events

The 20th century was the time when United States truly emerged as a global super power Read more about the Famous Events >>

Formation of NASA

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is an agency of the United States government

Read more about the Formation of NASA >>


The Progressive Era

The early 20th century in United States was marked by the Progressive Era. This era was marked by social activism as well as reforms in the political system of the country. Measures such as antitrust laws, and the promotion of woman suffrage and labor rights, tackled the modern problems that the country faced. Alcoholic beverages were briefly banned in the country during the period of Prohibition. New institutions and systems such as the Federal Reserve System were introduced during the Progressive Era. In general, the Progressive Era was a time when scientific methods, modern solutions and new policies marked American politics, society and economy.

Prohibition in the United States

Prohibition was an important and significant period in the United States during the 20th century. It was marked by a complete ban on the consumption, transportation, manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages. The ban was imposed in 1920 through the 18th Amendment. Prohibition gave birth to a number of criminal gangs who participated in bootlegging and used the funds for various crimal activity. During the Prohibition era, consumption of alcohol as well as liver problems fell by nearly 50%. However, demands for uplifting the ban gained momentum and the federal government repealed the ban in 1933.

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a movement that sought rights for the marginalized sections of the American society. The movement in particular championed the rights of African-Americans. It saw a number of nationally recognized leaders during the 20th century, such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Although it didn’t gain momentum during the first half of the century, the movement rapidly grew in the second half. Several organizations joined the movement and were instrumental in rallying the public support for ensuring the voting rights and other common privileges of the African-American population.

United States in World War I

During the World War I, United States initially decided to stay neutral. This changed when German forces attacked Britain passenger ships, resulting in the deaths of many American passengers onboard. The United States declared war on Germany in April, 1917. In 1918, U.S. soldiers played an important role in countering the German offensive and contributing in the final assault against Germany. At home, the war effort mobilized the entire American nation. It spurred economic growth, boosted patriotic sentiment and unified the country behind President Woodrow Wilson. It also launched United States into a truly global conflict for the first time.

United States in World War II

World War II started in 1939. United States decided to stay neutral during the first two years of the war. In 1941, Japan launched an attack on the American base at Pearl Harbor. This led United States to enter the war on the side of the Allied forces. Once it had entered the war, the role of United States proved decisive. The military and economic might of United States slowly turned the tide of the war against Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. By the end of the war, United States had invented and used the first Atomic Bomb, leading to the capitulation of Japan.

Status as a Superpower

During the 20th century, United States emerged as a major global power. This was reflected in the role of United States during the World War I but became more prominent during the World War II. Following the end of World War II, United States became one of only two major global powers, the other being the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, United States became the sole superpower in the world, effectively becoming the leader of the world.

Cold War

Soon after the end of World War II, two main powers emerged on the global landscape – Soviet Union and United States. While both were allies in their war against Germany during World War II, they immediately became rivals after the end of the World War II. Both had critical ideological differences – Soviet Union was grounded in socialism while United States championed liberal democracy. These differences led to a Cold War between the two nations. The Cold War began in 1946. It was a state of competition between the two states. Without directly fighting each other, they formed allies, funded and supported proxy wars, and did all they could to damage each other’s standing. The Cold War ended with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991.

Nuclear Arms Race

In August 1945, United States dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities – Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These were the first nuclear weapons ever used. Soon afterwards, a race for developing nuclear arms began between United States and the Soviet Union. Both countries, and their allies, sought to develop more and more sophisticated nuclear arms in order to win this race. Soon after the Cold War began, France, China and Britain also developed their own nuclear weapons.

The Marshall Plan

During World War II, European nations suffered heavily in terms of the number of people killed. In order to help the countries stand back on their own feet, the United States devised the Marshall Plan. According to this plan, United States disbursed nearly $12 billion to the European nations in order to help them rebuild their economies. The biggest recipient of this sum was United Kingdom followed by France. The aid was also meant to unify Western Europe into a bloc and prevent the spread of communism in the region.

The Space Race

The Space Race refers to a rivalry between Soviet Union and United States in their attempts to explore and navigate space. Both sides rapidly developed their space programs to this end. Russia was the first to launch an artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit in 1957. It was famously called Sputnik. United States was able to gain precedence by landing the first man on the Moon in 1969.

Sweet Land of Liberty – America in the 20th Century

Twentieth-Century America: A Brief History 1st Edition, Kindle Edition

Learn about 20th Century America in the Roaring Twenties at Wikipedia